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By David Fowler | Tuesday, July 19, 2011

David Fowler is the principal thoroughbred caller for Radio TAB, taking the position upon Wayne Wilson's retirement last August. David, who is a keen form student and punter, has enjoyed a lifetime involvement in the racing media. His personal blog, ‘My Call’, appears exclusively on HRO.

Except for death and taxes, nothing stays the same.

While it's true, most of us still fall into the trap of complacency with what we've got and are happy to go about our business day by day without looking too far into the future.

It breeds a false sense of security, only to be jolted out of it when change actually comes.

And it does, always.

I began my racing career in print journalism and expected it to be my working life.

Newspapers were here forever. Newspapers were like the sun rising in the morning and setting at night.

They would never close and, in fact, it was something never considered.

But the evolving new media (and I'm not talking about the internet but television and radio news bulletins outside 6pm .., hey it's the eighties!) and changing economics preceded the death knell of afternoon newspapers.

Goodbye Brisbane Telegraph February 1988 and goodbye Daily Sun in 1991. Gone, forever.

And two decades later while newspapers still exist, our access to news is assisted by many different forums.

My musings are a long way around to say the Australian racing industry must brace itself for change.

The sad, and frightening, part is it’s been changing for sometime and there's been no bracing happening!

For too long we thought racing would keep happening the same way day in and day out existing in some sort of self contained bubble, immune to outside forces or threats.

When we began to realise other sports were becoming more commercial and market savvy and pinching our client base, the bird had flown.

That was the enemy outside but now we have to grapple with the enemy within.

At least we reckoned racing could still be buoyant without racetrack crowds because the product is powerful enough to retain its appeal via TAB's, pubs, clubs and homes and we set it up as such.

But now punters are drifting away to wager on other sports and drifting away from traditional betting outlets to put their cash with corporate bookmakers who now seem to be on every street corner.

And its history repeating itself. It's happening right under our noses.

I'm not saying present administrators are doing naught about the current malaise … and that's what it is … but they could be doing a lot more.

And here's the sting. Our administrators are by and large too old for the task at hand.

Now that's not meant with any disrespect regarding anyone's age, but the older generation simply doesn't know what younger generations do or want.

Now I'm 47 and pretty young at heart but I can't comment confidently on what 20 and 30 somethings do or want.

Our administrators have the experience and that's not denied but they're either too proud to ask for younger advice or they simply don't want it and for some it's a selfish exercise to cling on to their own positions.

There are several "younger" dynamic administrators around Australia in all codes but many of their hands are tied by crusty boards and committees.

To those gents and ladies, I ask you to look at your racing industry, putting self interest and self protection aside, and do something pretty smartly before this wonderful business slips even further.

Start putting younger people on boards and committees to arrest the slide.

Until that happens, we are headed, slowly but surely, to a Brisbane Telegraph or Daily Sun scenario.

The figures … on all fronts … don't lie.

Until next week.

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David Fowler
David Fowler
Queensland's Own www.horseracingonly.com.au Queensland's Best